Issues: Defamation,  freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, defamation, satire, editorial responsibility, code of ethics in journalism, censorship, democracy, human rights, incitement of religious hatred, inflammatory acts, hate speech, stereotyping, blasphemy, assimilation, tolerance, respect, freedom of opinion, fight against terrorism, combating extremism, religious rights, legislation to combat defamation of Muslims,  legislation to combat defamation of prophets...

For those interested in research into a legal, or comparative approach:
While you determine the general position you take on this subject, those who would like to be more specific can do research in order to take into account any legal inconsistencies or double standards regarding freedom of expression which weaken arguments that publication of cartoons are protected by freedom of speech. Consider how the crisis could have been better handled by EU countries & EU institutions and by the Muslim world—whether the violence & unorganized Muslim responses around the world might have been different if Muslims and Muslim leaders believed adequate laws protected them against defamation? (Some argue that Europeans have demonstrated more responsibility in not offending religious sentiments associated with the Vatican, or Jews. E.g., laws that prosecute those who deny the Holocaust or alleged Armenian genocide, laws that prohibit the use of free speech to incite violence or hatred, legal protection against racial harassment at work, and other limits to academic freedom, etc. Note example of the boycott of Turkish film "Kurtlar Vadisi--Iraq" which has been described as inciting hatred, anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.


Does freedom of expression have any limits? Example: Freedom to yell "Fire" in a cinema.
After initial cartoon publications, was reprinting of cartoons to prove a point intentionally offensive and deliberately provocative?
Did cartoons incite hatred and religious violence? Did cartoons reinforce stereotypes and cause old prejudices to resurface?
Does the foreign media (be specific) have fair and balanced reporting/coverage of the reaction in Muslim countries, or does it tend to focus on enraged minorities against Western values?
Are codes of ethics and legal frameworks consistent? Example: Some European newspapers refuse to print offensive material about Jesus Christ, and laws deter insulting the Vatican.

List other issues of the debate before taking a position.

WHAT RESPONSES HAVE BEEN TAKEN?  Mostly emotional, religious, unorganized, violent (as portrayed in the media).
Declarations that denounce cartoons made by officials of predominately Muslim nations.

WHAT RESPONSES CAN BE TAKEN? More media attention given to rational sound arguments that fairly present all reactions to the cartoon crisis. Legal action. Fighting anti-defamation with coalitions. Organized and nonviolent responses. Global NGO coordination.


See content below for: Students in the News & Examples of Student "LETTERS TO THE EDITOR"

Student newspapers satirize cartoon controversy

The Official University of Manitoba Students' Newspaper Website March 04, 2006
Tessa Vanderhart Staff

Student newspapers across Canada, like media across the world, have had to make tough editorial decisions about the Jyllands-Posten cartoons.

Some, notably the Strand, the Gateway and the Peak, have chosen to run editorial cartoons on the subject of these highly contentious cartoons. One paper, UPEI’s the Cadre, even chose to print the original cartoons.

Though it appears that students are understandably divided on the issue, editors of these papers — many of them members of the Canadian University Press (CUP), of which the Manitoban is a member — expressed very little regret at what readers of student newspapers across the country have been exposed to in satirical cartoons and editorials.

Nick Ragaz, the managing editor at the Strand, the student newspaper of Victoria College at the University of Toronto, explained his newspaper’s decision to print a cartoon depicting Jesus kissing Mohammed in the “tunnel of tolerance.”

“The question that we had was: do we not publish this? And if not, how do we justify this?” said Ragaz.

The cartoon was a volunteer contribution, passed along from the U of T’s larger student paper, the Varsity.

The Strand considered the offensive nature of the cartoon, but in the end, found “no reasons not to publish” and has received both positive and negative feedback. A letter from the student council accused the paper of an “act of hate” and concerns have also been voiced by the Muslim students’ association on campus.

“Since nobody wants to pull the papers off the stands . . . . I don’t regret it,” he said.

Rather, Ragaz said, the cartoon was published in a genuine effort to promote tolerance, if occasionally misinterpreted.

Both the Canadian Press (CP) and the Toronto Star have written stories about the Strand’s cartoon, CP terming him “defiant and unapologetic.”

But the media attention garnered by the Strand doesn’t compare with attention paid to the Cadre. The University of PEI student newspaper reprinted the Jyllands-Posten cartoons, the first newspaper in Canada to do so.

Cadre editor-in-chief Ray Keating said that the cartoons were printed under the newspaper’s mandate to inform students.

He added that the cartoons were published with the support of the student union, but when the university administration banned distribution of the papers on campus, legal action was threatened. The Cadre is owned by the UPEI students’ union.

“Once we were censored, then it became a free speech issue,” said Keating.

Though they disagree, Keating said the student union and the Cadre are still on good terms. Some councillors later expressed a desire to have been consulted before the issues were pulled from the stands.

Daniel Kaszor, the editor-in-chief of the Gateway at the University of Alberta, made the editorial decision to publish a cartoon along with an editorial on Feb. 7.

In the Gateway’s cartoon, a man in a turban yells, “How dare you say that Muslims are terrorists? I should kill you for that!” in response to: “Freedom of the press means freedom to be a racist chump.”

And while Kaszor knew the cartoon itself was somewhat offensive, the Gateway received no response from it, except garnering an interview from the Edmonton Sun.

“The U of A campus is sort of a strange one, where we can probably get away with murder and no one would notice,” said Kaszor.

He explained that the “hyperbolistic and sort of crazy” cartoon was clearly satire.

“We haven’t really taken a side so much as commented on what was satirized,” he said.

William Wolfe-Wylie, the Atlantic Bureau Chief for CUP, writes a weekly commentary for the Argosy at Mount Allison University. On Feb. 9 the Argosy ran a point/counterpoint on the comics.

“I still don’t think that not publishing the cartoons is a freedom of the press issue. Especially when compared to the ‘professional press,’ I think student newspapers have more freedom than they would like to admit — we can publish pretty much anything at all and get away with it,” said Wolfe-Wylie.

Not only are the original cartoons readily available online, but the issue has become so contentious that Wolfe-Wylie contends that republishing them is less informative than provocative.

“The publication of further cartoons, such as those in the Strand and the Gateway are a contribution to the debate and are a great idea. If student papers wish to contribute to the debate, then an editorial explaining their stance will go further than further incitement.”

Dave Weatherall, the national bureau chief for the CUP, said that each paper has to decide for itself where to stand on the comics.

Still, he noted, there is a reason that student papers have picked up on drawing cartoons themselves.

“The fact that you can write about, but not draw Mohammed probably renders the cartoons more effective,” Weatherall said.

“A little cartoon is very powerful.”

Before circulating the Gateway’s editorial cartoon to CUP papers through its wire service, Weatherall asked elected regional bureau chiefs what they thought. Slightly more than half recommended that the cartoon be shared.

Dock Currie, the opinions editor at the Peak at Simon Fraser University, wanted to run the Jyllands-Posten cartoons, but a last-minute publishing decision led the Peak to instead publish a silhouette of a man with a bomb in his turban.

“I don’t think it provokes any insightful debate; most of the things . . . . about Islamic militancy have been said,” Currie opined.

But, he noted, there is still a reason to publish offensive materials in the Western world.

“Legitimate satire shouldn’t have to worry about being sanctioned or censored by the internal tenets of any religion, or any ‘ism’ at all,” said Currie.

“Student papers should be running stuff like this,” he said. “If you have autonomy from your [student union] and you’re not using it, you’re a waste of paper, in my mind.”

Student Editors Fired After College Paper Prints Anti-Muslim Cartoons
02.17.2006 9:27 AM EST

College publications struggle with decision to publish the controversial images

After weeks of violent protest across the Muslim world over a set of cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad printed in European newspapers, the tension over the images has reached the United States.

The decision by a pair of editors to
reprint the cartoons in The Daily Illini at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on February 9 has caused an uproar on the campus — and on Wednesday, it cost the students their jobs.

The New York Times reports that Muslim students and supporters held protests on the campus quadrangle on Tuesday saying they were stunned by the paper's publication of the images. From Pakistan to Malaysia, the two-week protests over the comics have resulted in more than a dozen deaths, the torching of European embassies and the burning of effigies of President Bush (see "Muslim Fury Over Danish Cartoons Spurs Riots Across The Globe — Why?").

The Daily Illini staff was so angry that in Wednesday's paper the publisher announced that editor in chief Acton H. Gorton, 25, and the opinions-page editor Chuck Prochaska, 20, had been suspended pending an investigation into how the cartoons made it into the paper.

Most major American newspapers, including The New York Times, have not printed the cartoons, first published in a Danish newspaper last September.

"This has gotten crazy," said Gorton, who decided to run six of the 12 cartoons even though he said he found them "bigoted and insensitive," according to the Times. Gorton said he received calls for his resignation, but quite a bit of praise as well, including comments of support from students as he walked on campus. "We did this to raise a healthy dialogue about an important issue that is in the news and so that people would learn more about Islam. Now, I'm basically fired."

The Illini printed the cartoons on the opinions page next to a column by Gorton explaining why he decided to publish them. Angry calls began coming in the morning the cartoons ran in the Illini. Shaz Kaiseruddin, a third-year law student and president of the Muslim Student Association, told the Times she awoke to a phone call from an angry colleague. "I was in disbelief that they would do this," Kaiseruddin, 24, said, "that our own student-based newspaper would be so ignorant and disrespectful."

The publication of the images has drawn so much ire because any depiction of Muhammad is considered blasphemous and is strictly avoided by Muslims.

The chancellor of the university sent a letter criticizing the paper, which is an independent publication. Richard Herman's letter said, "I believe that the D.I. could have engaged its readers in legitimate debate about the issues surrounding the cartoons' publication in Denmark without publishing them. It is possible, for instance, to editorialize about pornography without publishing pornographic pictures."

Staffers were reportedly furious that Gorton and Prochaska printed the images without properly discussing it with the paper's other top editors. The pair said they followed proper protocol and that anyone working at the paper could have seen the pages before they ran. The Illini ran an apology in light of the uproar and has promised more complete, nuanced coverage of the issue.

But the situation got even more heated on Thursday when the paper ran an opinion piece and a letter to the newspaper alumni blaming the two suspended editors for the publication of the cartoons. According to the Chicago Tribune, the opinion piece repeatedly named the two editors and said they "began planning for these cartoons, without the knowledge of the editorial board and executive team, at least two nights before their publication," going on to say that they didn't act responsibly and "weren't sensitive and tactful" with co-workers. Paper alumni also received an e-mail Thursday from publisher Mary Cory making similar charges.

Gorton's attorney sent a letter calling the paper's comments and Cory's e-mail defamatory and threatened legal action.

Some of the cartoons have been published in papers at the University of Wisconsin, Harvard University, Northern Illinois University and Illinois State University. While a handful of college papers, such as those at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, have published their own cartoons that comment on or refer to the controversial cartoons.

The decision to print or not print has set off debates on campuses across the country pitting two of the most dearly held values at universities: freedom of speech and sensitivity to other cultures.

After the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Badger Herald ran the most controversial image on Monday — depicting Muhammad with a turban in the shape of a bomb — officials organized a forum to discuss the issue next week. "Universally, we found the cartoon to be repugnant," Mac VerStandig, the editor in chief of Herald, told the Times. "But we believe that there was a certain endangerment of free speech here, especially given the general prudishness of the American press. We believe our readers are mature enough to look at these images."

ACLU Calls for Reinstatement of Students Suspended from University of Illinois Paper (2/17/2006)


Freedom of Speech in Jeopardy as Students are Penalized for Publishing Controversial Cartoons

NEW YORK - The American Civil Liberties Union today called upon the University of Illinois to reinstate the editor in chief and opinions page editor of the student newspaper, the Daily Illini, who were suspended after reprinting a series of controversial cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad.

"While we certainly understand the sensitivities surrounding the publication of explosive and controversial content," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "It has been the long-standing belief of the ACLU that the best response to speech we find odious and noxious is more speech - not less."

In a letter sent today to the Chancellor of the University, the ACLU expressed concern and disagreement with the decision to suspend the two students from their positions and noted that upholding the premise of free speech, many universities, including the University of North Carolina, Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, have published the cartoons without any retribution against students or the publications involved.

The ACLU has a long and demonstrated commitment to protecting free speech, as well as the rights of Muslims, Arabs and Asians in the post-9/11 context. The organization urges the University of Illinois to further a dialogue with students and faculty, and reach out to Muslim and Arab students to address issues of concern to those students.

"We understand that the publication of the anti-Muslim cartoons presents vexing issues for a democracy, but we also believe that that is the price of an open society," added Romero. "Democracy means a great many things to a great many people. But it must never be a quiet business."

The ACLU's letter to the Chancellor of the University of Illinois is available online at:

NIU newspaper latest to join fray over Danish cartoons
Chicago Tribune February 15, 2006

By James Janega and David Mendell

The student newspaper at Northern Illinois University this week ran the controversial Danish political cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. The student paper at the University of Illinois is still reeling from the consequences of running them.

Harvard's conservative alternative paper has run them. On Wednesday, so did the alternative student paper at Illinois State University.

By this point, none of the student journalists could fail to see that the subject was a delicate one. But for reasons both carefully pondered and less so, they went ahead anyway.

"We weighed the potential backlash, the potential fallout and decided being afraid of backlash should not keep us from running a story, because where do you draw the line?" said Northern Star editor-in-chief Derek Wright, as letters—many incensed, some supportive—began to arrive at the Star's offices at Northern Illinois. "We felt it was something that was our responsibility."

As violent reactions to the cartoons simmer in the Muslim world—at least three more people were killed in riots in Pakistan on Wednesday—the controversial cartoons are trickling into student newspapers here.

Faculty advisers and journalism ethicists have rushed to frame the discussions with students over handling the images in their own campus papers. As a further sign of their topical importance, a panel on the cartoons and their aftermath was added to a student journalism convention scheduled for this weekend in Chicago.

"Typical things we deal with as advisers are naming a rape victim or printing obscenity," said Lance Speere, president of College Media Advisers, a national college media group. "Seldom do all those issues occur at the exact same time on all of our campuses. But this is."

For the most part, news organizations—including the Chicago Tribune—have decided it is enough to write about the cartoons and their aftermath without publishing them. Only two major U.S. newspapers have run the cartoons, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the American-Statesman in Austin, Texas.

"The nature of the offensiveness alone creates a significant barrier to publishing or republishing the image, even if you can justify the original publication, which I think is not easy to do," said ethicist Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute for journalism.

The cartoons were first published in late September by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and reprinted in other European publications in recent weeks. They portray the prophet as a terrorist, with one depicting Muhammad wearing a turban shaped like a bomb.

At the U. of I., the Daily Illini's publication of the cartoons sparked community debate, amid anger and frustration in the Muslim community. Muslim activists from Chicago traveled to Urbana-Champaign to attend a forum on the issue.

"We discuss pornography in papers without showing images," said Ahmed M. Rehab, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago. "We discuss violent acts of war and terror without showing graphic images of maimed corpses. We discuss anti-Semitism without reprinting vile anti-Semitic depictions. So this editor's argument that we had to print the racist cartoons just to understand the situation really was paper-thin, and a lot of people saw straight through it."

Meanwhile, the Daily Illini's suspended editor, Acton Gorton, on Wednesday hired a Chicago-based Muslim-American civil rights attorney, Junaid Afeef. Gorton said he was defamed by the Illini's retraction editorial, which blamed the decision to publish the cartoons on a "renegade editor."

"I just want to make sure I have good representation for whatever happens now," Gorton said. "My career is in jeopardy."

The Daily Illini backlash was fresh in the minds of editors at NIU, where the Star's editorial board decided to publish the political cartoons last Thursday, but postponed doing so until Monday.

Officials said they delayed to look into copyright questions about re-publication. But it was just as well they waited, Wright said. The reaction in Champaign prompted them to rethink how to present the material.

"By chance, we were able to see the feedback U. of I. had gotten," Wright said. "Luckily, we had those extra days so we could use ways to do it a bit differently."

The 12 cartoons were run inside on Page 3 of the tabloid paper, with an editorial headlined "More Than Cartoons" on the front page. Alongside the cartoons, an article explained the controversy and student opinions. On Page 8, the Star ran an opinion column from a student Muslim group explaining objections to the images.

Feedback on the decision has been split, said Wright and Jim Killam, the paper's adviser.

Some people, including Muslims, said they objected to the cartoons but appreciated the newspaper's muted presentation, the Star said. Wright has been asked to sit on a panel Saturday to discuss the cartoons during the annual Illinois College Press Association conference in Chicago, he said. Student journalists everywhere have been thinking about the issue, some less aggressively than others.

At Ohio University, home to the Scripps Howard School of Journalism, student editors had "theoretical discussions" about running the cartoons, but never gave serious thought to publishing them, a senior editor said.

They briefly discussed publishing an Associated Press photo that showed images of the cartoons in the foreground. Then AP pulled the photo.

"We thought, if AP is making that decision, we weren't going to step on anyone's toes," said Dan Rinderle, associate editor of the Post, the university's student-led daily paper.

"It was more than we wanted to deal with."

Shades of gray mark debate over decision by Daily Illini
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH   Monday, Feb. 20 2006

The Daily Illini is the student newspaper at the University of Illinois. This
month, the paper published some of the so-called "Prophet cartoons" that have
led to rioting in several countries.

Reaction on campus was swift. The day after the cartoons were published,
Chancellor Richard Herman weighed in on both sides of the issue. He was
saddened the newspaper published these cartoons that he found so offensive and
he disagreed with the decision to do so, but he was certain that the
publication of these cartoons would stir considerable debate and such debate
would leave everyone stronger and wiser. After reading his letter several
times, I figured his toughest decision was whether to sign it "Richard Herman"
or "Herman Richard." Clearly, he is capable of doing it either way.

But maybe I shouldn't make fun of the chancellor. This is not an easy call. My
bosses decided not to run the cartoons. They were joined in that decision by
the overwhelming majority of newspapers in this country and abroad. As the
don't-publish crowd likes to point out, the fact that you have the right to
publish something doesn't mean you have the duty to publish something. Hate
speech is cited. Pornography is cited. Free speech does not negate good taste.

In fact, one of the more interesting letters that ran in the Daily Illini
during the days following the publication of the cartoons came from Matt Vroom,
who graduated last year. He was the author of a comic strip that ran in the
paper. It was called, "I Hate Pam."

"I graduated with a pile of unpublished comics that were deemed too 'offensive'
to run," he wrote. "At one point, I was suspended for a comic's content. . . .
Where was free speech on that one?"

Vroom did not mention the content of the comic strip that led to his
suspension, nor did he give details about any of the comics that were
considered too offensive to publish. But it is probably safe to say that
nothing he drew or wrote would have caused rioting and deaths.

But that is precisely the point, say the let's-publish folks. These cartoons
from Denmark have become an integral part of a big news story. The public ought
to be able to see them. Besides, when people are willing to kill in the name of
a religion, their decision becomes fair game to editorial cartoonists. That's
what a free press in a secular society is all about.

Last Monday, the Daily Illini ran dueling editorials. The first, attributed to
the student editorial board, criticized the two students responsible for the
publication of the cartoons, editor in chief Acton Gorton and Opinions Editor
Chuck Prochaska. "The Daily Illini has been embarrassed by the blatant abuse of
power by both the editor in chief and the opinions editor. We apologize to the
Muslim community as well as the rest of our readership for Gorton's and
Prochaska's actions." Underneath that editorial was a defiant response from
Gorton and Prochaska. They regretted nothing.

On Wednesday, the paper announced that Gorton and Prochaska had been suspended
from their newspaper duties and a student task force had been established to
"investigate the internal decision-making and communication surrounding" the
decision to publish the cartoons.

My daughter, who attends the university, asked me what I would have done had I
been the student in charge of the paper.

I'd have published the cartoons, I said. First of all, I lean to the "free
press-secular society" side of this particular debate, and second, we're
talking about a university campus, and if you can't debate this stuff on a
university campus, where can you?

Besides, as the chancellor would say, debate will make us wiser and stronger.
Or not.

Clemson student newspapers publish Muhammad cartoons

Associated Press  Feb. 24, 2006

Two student newspapers at Clemson University have reprinted controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, upsetting Muslim students on campus and drawing a rebuke from the school's president.

The papers, the conservative Tiger Town Observer and the liberal Clemson Forum, are not funded by the school, but the Observer has an on-campus office.

In an open letter e-mailed to Clemson students and staff, President James Barker said he was disappointed that the papers printed the cartoons, which were first published in a Danish newspaper and have sparked deadly riots around the world.

"While I wholeheartedly support freedom of the press and the right of student media to operate independently of administrative oversight and censorship, student journalists must understand that with rights come responsibilities, including the responsibility to be respectful of different faiths and beliefs," Barker wrote. "One of Clemson's goals is to strengthen our sense of community and increase diversity. The publication of these cartoons does nothing to further that goal."

The letter said the cartoons were published in both papers Friday.

Mehmet Babacan, a student from Turkey who is president of Clemson's Muslim Student Association, called the cartoons "disturbing."

"I just can't understand, what's their aim?" he said. "Certainly it's not going to help our community at all to understand each other."

Babacan said the cartoons attack one of Islam's holiest symbols.

"It's just nonsense and meaningless for us," he said. "I'm just feeling depressed."

He said the group planned to issue a formal statement next week.

Muslims believe any image of Muhammad is sacrilegious. One of six cartoons published in the Observer depicts the prophet with a bomb in his turban.

Andrew Davis, editor of the Tiger Town Observer, said the staff agreed unanimously to publish the cartoons because the mainstream media's refusal to print them meant most of the public had not seen the drawings at the center of the controversy.

"We feel it is our duty as journalists to disseminate information to the public," said Davis, a senior political science major from Surfside Beach. "The public is not aware of what these images look like."

He said it was a coincidence that the two papers published the images on the same day. Davis said both papers publish monthly. "This is our first issue since this whole fiasco has begun," he said.

Davis said he understood why Babacan was upset.

"I can understand that he's upset by these. After all, these cartoons are an attack against his religion," he said. "However our aim is to inform the public of what's going on over there."

The Clemson Forum, in an editor's note at the end of a column accompanying the cartoon, said it did not condone "religious intolerance or discrimination."

"While the Forum understands the current severity of this issue, we have merely reproduced these cartoons within an editorial to give individuals an alternate point of view," said the column, which was written by a student identified only as "Peter."

Bill Rogers, executive director of the South Carolina Press Association, said he's aware of only one other newspaper in the state that published any of the cartoons: the Columbia City Paper, a seven-month-old, locally owned weekly.

That paper's publisher, Paul Blake, said he felt the paper had a responsibility to print one of the cartoons to illustrate a column on the topic.

"It was not meant to get any attention," Blake said. "As the alternative press, it's our responsibility to print the things that the mainstream press will not."

Rogers was not surprised that student newspapers chose to publish the images. "Student newspapers are a little bit freer to do things like this, a little freer and more into challenging the status quo," he said.

Associate Dean Warns Salient of ‘Dangerous’ Fallout
Published On Thursday, February 16, 2006  5:41 AM
By SHIFRA B. MINCER Crimson Staff Writer

College administrators warned yesterday of a possible retaliatory response to the publication of the controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in The Harvard Salient. The Salient republished four of the cartoons in its Feb. 8 paper, angering a number of student groups on campus. Despite the concerns within the College, however, outside Johnston Gate today, a homeless-run newspaper has also reprinted two of the cartoons.

Spare Change News decided to publish two of the cartoons on the same day that Associate Dean Judith H. Kidd sent an e-mail to Travis R. Kavulla ‘06-’07, editor of the Salient, warning him that certain communities on- and off- campus could potentially threaten members of the conservative biweekly paper.

“Please be alert to the possibility that some segments of the campus and surrounding communities may be sufficiently upset by the publication of the cartoons that they may become dangerous,” she wrote yesterday in an e-mail obtained by The Crimson.

“Please let HUPD know immediately of any contact with the Salient--e-mail; phone; in person--that appears to be threatening,” she wrote. “The College is concerned for your welfare in light of this action you have taken.”

The e-mail, which Kavulla sent over the Salient open-list, made its way to members of the Harvard Islamic Society through its open-list last night. Undergraduates in the Muslim community characterized Kidd’s e-mail as “unacceptable” and “offensive.”

“If this is the letter in fact that she sent, I find it very concerning that Dean Kidd is buying into the idea that segments of the Muslim community at Harvard could be violent,” President of the Harvard Islamic Society Khalid M. Yasin ’07 said. “We’ve always promoted dialogue and discussion. For her to jump to the conclusion is extremely insulting and very offensive.”

“I was really surprised and offended when I read the e-mail because I just felt it was totally uncalled for, because she basically intimated that the Muslim community at Harvard would become violent,” Huma Farid ’06, who is a member of the Harvard Islamic Society, said last night. “To even hint that we’d become violent when we’ve never shown an inclination of that sort—it is just really offensive to be thought of in that manner.”

Kidd said her e-mail to the editors of the Salient yesterday was sent “out of concern for the students.” It was not a judgment on their decision to publish the cartoons, she added.

“Students’ publications have the right of free press,” said Kidd in a phone interview yesterday.

The republication of the cartoons in a number of European papers over the past few weeks has resulted in world-wide protests, some of which have turned violent.

Protestors have torched Danish embassies in Beirut and Damascus, and a boycott of Danish products is picking up momentum in the Muslim world.

Kavulla said he understood the rationale behind Kidd’s e-mail, citing issues of liability and safety.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if her words were interpreted by some Muslim students in a negative way,” he said. “Her worry is overwrought.”

“I think Dean Kidd is being overly cautious,” said Rami R. Sarafa ‘07, the former president of the Harvard Society of Arab Students.


While mostly conservative-leaning papers have published the cartoons, including The Salient and The New York Sun, editors of Spare Change News decided to publish them within the context of civil liberties.

“Freedom of speech is an important right for all people in the world to have,” said Sam J. Scott, editor of the newspaper and executive director of the Homeless Empowerment Project (HEP). “Whenever it is threatened, journalists especially should be outraged.”

For Scott, who said he identifies Spare Change News as a non-partisan newspaper, publishing the cartoons was an issue of social justice.

“We are the only Boston newspaper that focuses on social justice issues,” he said, emphasizing Spare Change’s work with poverty, homelessness, and civil liberties.

“We agreed that this was something that we needed to do out of principle,” Scott said. “How could we not criticize other newspapers for not doing that?”

Yasin said he was also offended by the decision to publish the cartoons in Spare Change, a move that he said was irresponsible and offensive to certain ethnic groups.

“This is not a question of freedom of speech,” Yasin said. “There’s a difference between legal rights and what is moral to do.”

Sarafa said he disagreed with Spare Change’s decision to publish the cartoons.

Anyone can easily view the cartoons on the Internet or in the various newspapers that have already published them, Sarafa added.

“Either you want to garner negative attention or garner negative discourse,” Sarafa said. “Or you want attention.”

But President of the Harvard Democrats Eric P. Lesser ’07 characterized each newspaper’s decision to publish the cartoons as completely different.

“The consistent history the Salient has is of pushing the envelope on purpose,” Lesser said. “I don’t think Spare Change has any history of that.”

Lesser pointed to the way in which each newspaper chose to publish the cartoons, stressing the context and history each one brought to the cartoons.

“These are two very different papers that come at issues with very different perspectives,” he said.

Spare Change News is a biweekly newspaper produced by HEP, a Cambridge-based organization that provides opportunities for homeless people to earn their own income.

Scott said that The Salient’s decision to publish the cartoons may arise out of partisan leanings.

The Salient may feel comfortable publishing the cartoons because “a lot of conservatives have anti-Islam sentiments,” Scott said.

“Liberals tend to be more culturally sensitive to minorities,” he added. “They don’t want to risk being offensive or anti-PC.”

Alongside the cartoons, Spare Change published an editorial that stated its purpose in running the images that has since sparked world-wide violence.

“Spare Change News advocates for social justice, and having freedom of speech—even that which makes fun of religion—is one of the rights all people should enjoy,” the editorial reads.

“Newspapers in general—and alternative ones like [Spare Change] and the Phoenix in particular—must reprint the cartoons in defense of free speech as well,” the editorial published today continues. “To do otherwise is to cower before fear and intimidation, and that is the complete antithesis of everything newspapers and journalists are supposed to stand for.”

—Staff writer Shifra B. Mincer can be reached at

MSU Student Site Draws Criticism for Posting Danish Cartoons

By Miki Johnson Miki Johnson (

Published: February 28, 2006 12:52 PM ET

NEW YORK An online newspaper run by a professor and students from Michigan State University's journalism school drew criticism from Muslim groups yesterday for posting several of the Danish cartoons that have sparked controversy in recent weeks.

The SpartanEdge, which is paid for and overseen by MSU new media instructor Bonnie Bucqueroux but is not affiliated with the university, posted late Sunday a box at the top of its home page with a photograph of Muslim protesters in Europe burning a Danish flag and the words, "Those infamous Danish cartoons -- it’s your choice. Click here to see what the furor is all about -- or don't, if you would be offended."

The online publication of the four cartoons -- one of which depicts the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb as his turban -- sparked complaints from the group Muslims and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Dawud Walid, its director, called the cartoons offensive and asked that they be taken down, according to a story yesterday in the Detroit Free Press. Bucqueroux told E&P by e-mail that she and Walid had spoken and now "agree to disagree."

Bucqueroux also said, in an action by the university's Muslim Students' Association, organized before but cemented by the SpartanEdge's publication of the cartoons, about a dozen students protested outside the Administration Building today.

The cartoons appear in the SpartanEdge's "Free Speech Issue," which is slated to be online for about two weeks. The issue also includes a feature story about free speech issues brought up by preachers on campus and counter-protests, along with an "Edgitorial" by editor Alexander Scott defending the decision to post the cartoons. "Admittedly, the print and broadcast media do have a rationale for not showing the comics: anyone who tunes in or flips the pages would be forced to see the evil cartoons and that person could be offended by it," Scott writes. " has the advantage of the Internet. We have the ability to show the images to people who consciously click the link to the page containing them."

The editorial letter has so far sparked 28 comments, ranging from strong support of the cartoon's publication to its characterization as a ploy for media attention. Bucqueroux defends the cartoons' publication in her own "Publisher's Blog," stating "When the editorial board decided this week to publish a handful of the Danish cartoons, a voice inside me cheered. There’s a reason for that Edge in the name -- the young people attracted to this publication are passionate about free speech issues. And I am proud to provide them a platform for their views."

SpartanEdge went live Jan. 16 and has courted controversy from its earliest days. E&P reported in January about its Spartanette blog, which drew concerns from professors and administrators that readers would not understand the delineation between the blog's opinionated writing and the rest of the site's "traditional journalism." Bucqueroux and the staff of students envision the site as a "sand box" for students to explore and develop new Web publishing techniques.

Protests at UNC against anti-Muslim cartoons

By Julie Southerland | March 3, 2006 | Page 11

GREENSBORO, N.C.--Protesters occupied the offices of the student newspaper at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill February 20 following the paper’s publication of racist anti-Muslim cartoons.

The cartoons were first printed February 9 in the Daily Tar Heel (DTH), the main campus paper. When the DTH ignored calls to apologize from the campus Muslim Student Association (MSA), more than a dozen students at UNC, including MSA members, sat in at the DTH office.

The protest organizer, Salma Mirza, said they had more than 100 signatures on a petition stating they would not pick up another copy of the student newspaper until an apology was issued. However, the DTH has flatly refused to apologize, claiming that the issue is a matter of free speech.

But as an MSA letter to the newspaper pointed out, the cartoons were designed to insult and provoke Muslims. “We also ask that the DTH exercise a greater measure of responsibility by not repeating such bigoted actions,” the MSA stated, adding that “any depiction of the Prophet is a known violation of Islamic theology, understood and respected throughout the world. To intentionally tag the disgraceful depiction with an implication of terrorism is unacceptable.”

In Greensboro, the Rhinoceros Times, a conservative weekly, reprinted several of the cartoons in their February 16 issue and also have refused to apologize for doing so. The main newspaper in Greensboro, the News and Record, has written a series of articles on the cartoon controversy and received a flurry of letters and calls in response.

Many letters express disgust over the cartoons, but a significant minority praised the Rhinoceros Times for “having the courage” to print them and demanded the News and Record follow suit. Meanwhile, the Greensboro Muslim community has responded, with the Islamic Center of the Triad calling for weekly protests outside of the Rhinoceros Times office until the paper apologizes.

The newspaper’s editor has refused--and has promised to print even more of the cartoons. Others protesting the racist cartoons include the UNC-Greensboro chapter of the Campus Antiwar Network, the International Socialist Organization and various community activists.

These protests need to be part of a national response to these cartoons, which have contributed to an atmosphere of racism against Arabs and Muslims. This is not a free speech issue--it is about hate speech used to demonize Muslims.

Write or call these two newspapers to demand apologies for printing these racist cartoons. Call 336-273-0885 to reach the Rhinoceros Times or email editor-in-chief John Hammer at Call Daily Tar Heel editor Ryan C. Tuck at 919-962-4086 or e-mail

Decision to publish anti-Muslim cartoons causes newsroom rift

JIM PAUL Associated Press  Posted on Fri, Feb. 17, 2006

An editor's decision to publish six of the cartoons that have caused violence throughout the Islamic world in the University of Illinois' student-run newspaper this month prompted outcry, protests from Muslim students and a printed apology.

The editor's suspension this week from the independent publication also has raised a fresh discussion of ethics and free speech in college newsrooms.

Acton H. Gorton and his opinions page editor, Chuck Prochaska, were suspended from their duties at the Daily Illini, not for publishing the cartoons on Feb. 9 but for failing to discuss it with others in the newsroom first, according to Mary Cory, the general manager of Illini Media Co., which publishes the Daily Illini independent of the university.

A student-led task force is investigating what happened and is to report back on Feb. 28, Cory said.

"The editor in chief intentionally kept knowledge of his plan to publish the cartoons from his executive team and editorial board, and had no plans in place to deal with any reader reactions once they were published," Cory said in an e-mail to Daily Illini almuni that was obtained by The Associated Press. She declined further comment Friday.

Gorton's attorney, Junaid Afeef, sent a letter to Illini Media on Thursday accusing Cory of casting "unwarranted aspersion on Acton Gorton's character."

"If it is, in fact, an internal matter ... then it would be prudent to wait until the investigation is done before airing their opinions," he said in an interview Friday.

While Gorton and Prochaska dispute Cory's assertion, it raises the issue of whether sensitive issues should have a wider decision-making audience within the newsroom, even though the editor-in-chief is the ultimate arbiter of content at most independent, student-run newspapers at major public universities, said Jim Fischer, president of the Western Association of University Publication Managers, which comprises student-run newspapers at 29 universities.

"One point here is that it's very valuable for the staff to be involved in that discussion," said Fischer, who also is business manager for student publications at the University of New Mexico. "When there's really thoughtful discussion about an issue, it seems the right thing is done most of the time."

But making decisions by committee can create problems, both with the decision and with perceptions, said Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va.

"You may not always get very definitive answers," he said. "A publication also can appear to the readers to be a bit fragmented if decisions are based on committee rulings as opposed to an individual leader."

The student-run newspaper at Northern Illinois University, The Northern Star, ran 12 of the anti-Muslim cartoons in its Monday edition after extensive discussions that included expanding the newspaper's editorial board from five to 12 members, said Editor-in-Chief Derek Wright.

"Ultimately, it was a decision that we knew would affect so many different people," he said. "It would affect the paper's reputation in the future, not just the staff now. It would affect the paper's credibility. It could affect possibly, in a worst-case scenario, our safety."

The newspaper had several meetings to discuss the issue and had, coincidentally, scheduled the publication on the same day as the Daily Illini, Wright said. But the cartoons and accompanying articles were held until Monday while the newspaper checked into copyright issues, he said.

"Those couple of extra days were kind of a breathing room for us to double-check and make sure we were going about things as cautiously as possible," Wright said. "It made us further understand that we were doing it the way we should."

The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations plans a public forum Saturday evening in suburban Villa Park to discuss the cartoons and reaction to them.

Prochaska and Gorton said Friday they decided to move quickly to publish the cartoons because they were newsworthy.

"We wanted to inform our readers of a story that had violence spawned by imagery," Prochaska said. "We felt they wouldn't be adequately informed if they couldn't see the imagery that was the root of this entire story."

Gorton said he sought out advice from the Daily Illini's former editor-in-chief and others before deciding to run the cartoons and said accusations that he tried to hide his decision are wrong.

"To say this is a secret agenda is ludicrous," he said. "Everybody who's making that accusation now looked at the paper before it even went to the printer, before it was even near deadline, and nobody raised any concerns at all. Nobody said anything whatsoever."

But Shira Weismann, the paper's managing editor for visuals who is on the executive team with Gorton, Prochaska and other senior editors, said she did not see the cartoons before they were published.

"I did not see that page," she said. "I wasn't paying attention. I heard flying rumors that something was going around but I never saw it. I was never asked. I was never told."

Such a public airing of internal strife at a university newspaper is "extremely rare," Goodman said.

"When it gets to this point that staff members are so unhappy that they want an editor suspended, it is a reflection of some problems within the staff that probably go beyond the particular incident that prompted it," Goodman said.

Cartoons Offend Muslims At UConn

By: Kate King

Issue date: 2/16/06

Students from the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at UConn think printing cartoons that depict the Prophet Muhammad is insulting, extremely offensive and should not be legal.

"I don't see the point in the cartoon except to enrage Muslims and incite hate," said Faisal Kashem, a 2nd-semester accounting major. "In Europe it's against the law to do anything anti-Semitic. You can't make fun of the Holocaust, why can't all people have that right?"

The printing of 12 cartoons of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper last September has unleashed a wave of outrage and violence from offended Muslims worldwide. The controversy pits the sacredness of religious customs against the right to freedom of speech. For Muslims here at UConn, the right to free speech comes with certain restrictions and responsibility, including respect for Islam.

"I feel sorry if Muslims feel offended and that was not the intention, but the cartoons were within the acceptable boundaries of free speech in Denmark," Flemming Rose, the editor of the newspaper that printed the cartoons said in a story by The New York Times.

Saleh Ibrahim, a graduate student majoring computer science and the president of the MSA, disagrees. According to Ibrahim, newspapers may have the right to print these cartoons but "it's amoral, it's impolite and it's an inaccurate depiction of the Prophet." In an online forum discussing the issue, Ibrahim wrote, "the [European Union] must pass laws that forbid insulting the religion of Islam similar to the laws against anti-Semitism."

According to a CNN article, the cartoons, one of which "depicts the prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb," are viewed as sacrilegious by Muslims, since "Islam widely holds that representations of the prophet are banned for fear they could lead to idolatry." The article states, "Iran demands apology over cartoons."

Since they were printed in September, the cartoons have resulted in a wave of protests and in some cases violence from outraged Muslims. According to The New York Times, at least 13 people have died so far in riots occurring all over the world, including Kenya, Egypt, Iran and most recently Pakistan.

"Obviously, from among the billion Muslims worldwide it is expected to find some weak people who lose their self-control and burst in rage," Ibrahim wrote in an e-mail. "We have to understand that this is the nature of human beings and has nothing to do with Islam or civilization."

In reaction to the cartoons, the MSA has sent a letter of condemnation to the Danish ambassador in Washington. The MSA has also "joined the worldwide boycott of Danish products and started a campaign to introduce the real Muhammad to the community instead of the stereotypical figure that is being propagated by envious and hateful people," Ibrahim said.

Sparks fly at forum on prophet cartoons

By Kelly Soderlund The Journal Gazette Feb. 28, 2006

During a heated discussion Monday night, the editor of IPFW’s student newspaper was taken to task by people angry at her staff’s decision to publish the controversial 12 cartoons featuring caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.

An audience of about 50 people of all races attended a forum at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne designed to hear what a panel, students and community members had to say on the choice. Many questioned the motives behind The Communicator’s decision and said Brianna Belford, the paper’s editor in chief, was just seeking publicity.

Since the cartoons were published in several European newspapers, deadly riots have ensued across the world.

At least one audience member said that if the staff were more informed about Islam, they might not have published the cartoons in the newspaper’s Feb. 15 edition. Saud Sabah, president of the Fort Wayne Islamic Council, asked Belford whether the decision was worth making IPFW look like a redneck university.

“I think you had poor judgment in publishing these cartoons,” said Sabah, who acknowledged that he has not seen the cartoons. “I think if The Communicator knew enough about Islam and how Islam would feel about it they might not have.”

After many people criticized Belford’s decision, her father, Edward, stood up in her defense. He said she called him to ask his opinion on running the cartoons, and he advised against it. Edward Belford said after the meeting that everybody needed to lighten up.

Belford said her staff debated the issue for about a week and polled random students around campus about their thoughts on the cartoons. Ultimately, Belford said The Communicator staff believed it had a duty to show their readers what was so controversial.

She said she anticipated holding a forum to discuss the issue and believes she accomplished her goal by educating the IPFW community.

“In my mind, and I hope in my staff’s mind, we’ve done good,” Belford said.

But others in attendance weren’t so convinced. IPFW junior Shalonda Moore said that if Belford was planning on conducting a forum, it should have been advertised with the cartoons. Moore said The Communicator is perpetuating stereotypes of Muslims by printing the caricatures.

Junior Stephanie Carpenter did not agree that the newspaper achieved its goal, because she still feels uninformed about the protests and the controversy.

“A lot of us don’t understand why they’re so defamatory,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said she wished each of the cartoons were explained and believed the newspaper staff spent more time trying to make sure they would come out looking good instead of telling the whole story. Panelist Erik Ohlander, a professor of religious studies, said part of the reason why so many Muslims have protested the cartoons is the current political climate that has fueled the stereotype of Muslims as terrorists.

The cartoons were paired with an editorial that took aim at the many American news outlets that opted not to publish the cartoons, saying they are doing readers a disservice by not presenting all the facts.

The cartoons originally appeared in a Danish newspaper in September. The images are as varied as a drawing of Muhammad in the desert leading a donkey, to a picture of him with a bomb on his head. There’s another image of the prophet apparently standing at the gates of heaven turning away Muslims, saying “Stop stop we ran out of virgins.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer published the caricatures, as did college newspapers at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the University of Illinois. Two editors at the University of Illinois’ newspaper, the Daily Illini, were suspended from their duties after the backlash the decision caused.

Journal Gazette Editorial Page Editor Tracy Warner, who also sits on The Communicator’s advisory board, said The Journal Gazette opted not to print the cartoons because they were offensive.

“I didn’t really see any positive,” Warner said. “It says something about your paper if you print something like that.”

The decision of The Communicator might have been fueled by different reasons because they are serving a different type of reader from The Journal Gazette, Warner said.

Belford said she’s received few letters to the editor about the cartoons but her attempts to do a follow-up story on the reaction of Muslim students on campus has been unsuccessful. None of the Muslim students she tried to talk to would allow their names to be in the paper, and Belford said she has had a hard time successfully interviewing someone because her name is associated with the notoriety the decision has received.

UA newspaper enters Islamic fray

By Eric Swedlund
Arizona Daily Dtar
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 02.08.2006
The UA's student newspaper weighed in on the outrage surrounding insulting cartoons of Muhammad Tuesday, publishing an editorial cartoon suggesting that the Islamic prophet needs to "learn how to take a joke."
Though senior editors anticipated complaints, the cartoon has not generated much response, said Aaron Mackey, editor in chief of the Arizona Daily Wildcat. The cartoon, by Abbey Golden, depicts Buddha, Neptune (or Poseidon) and Moses standing together while Jesus tells Muhammad, "You really needa learn how to take a joke, Mohammed. . . ."
"We discussed a lot of it last night, the senior editors, and we talked about the possible harm it might inflict. We thought about those concerns and good reasons to run it as well," Mackey said. "As anything that appears on our opinion pages, it's a flash point for dialogue about issues."
Mackey, speaking for the newspaper and on behalf of Golden, said that as of 5 p.m., he had not received a single phone call, e-mail or letter to the editor with any response or concern about the cartoon. One student personally went to the newspaper to express his concern, Mackey said.
Mackey noted Muhammad wasn't depicted in a way similar to the Danish cartoons that have sparked the outrage and that such tasteless or patently offensive work would not run in the Wildcat. In addition to publishing letters to the editor, the Wildcat occasionally invites members of the UA community to submit guest commentaries and would do so in this instance, said Mackey, a journalism and English senior.
Mark Woodhams, the Wildcat adviser and director of Arizona Student Media, said he received no feedback on the cartoon Tuesday.
One Muslim student told the Arizona Daily Star in an e-mail that the Wildcat could have commented on the issue without using an image of Muhammad.
"The editorial cartoon in yesterday's Wildcat depicting the Prophet Muhammad was not quite as offensive and demeaning as the cartoons that caused worldwide protests, but it shows that many are still not getting the point," said Miriam Hoda, a physiology senior and student coordinator for the Muslim Student Association.
Scott Lucas, faculty adviser to the Muslim Student Association and an assistant professor of Near Eastern Studies, said he hasn't heard of any complaints about the Wildcat cartoon but said he expects it will be included in campus discussions about the larger issue.
● Contact reporter Eric Swedlund at 573-4115 or at

Letter to the Editor

Muslims' anger over derogatory cartoons depicting prophet justified

Abdullah J. Zakariya / Graduate student / Electrical Engineering major

Posted: 2/13/06

I was reading the article, "Muslim Communities Overreacts to Danish Comic Strip," regarding the Danish comic strip and how the Muslim community overreacted to that. As Muslims we have certain beliefs regarding all religions. The Muslim community would have been disgusted just as much if these cartoons represented other religious figures from other religions.

The disturbing part of the matter is that people today look over all Muslims as terrorists and Islam as a religion is the source. The reason that people felt offended by these cartoons is that the cartoons pictured Islam as a terrorist religion by emphasizing Prophet Mohammed as a terrorist.

How would other religions feel if that was the case to their religious figures? I do not want to justify the burning of the consulates and fatal demonstrations, which is mostly done by some uneducated people, because this is the minority percentage of the whole Islamic world. In addition, it is wrong to face this problem in such a way.

However, free speech should not be exercised in such a racist way, showing that a group of people are all terrorist based on religion; whereas, in fact, other issues like the Holocaust were mentioned once by one of the leaders and the matter escalated all the way to the United Nations.

So it is racist to mention that, but such cartoons are not! How would people feel if these cartoons targeted Christian or Jewish religious figures? Wouldn't they feel the same? Again, that does not justify what was done over the matter. I think the Muslim world lost a lot of its ground on a just case by having some irresponsible acts by some unofficial parties.

Furthermore, I think the writer exaggerated by foreseeing a war on countries by terrorist groups like Hezbollah, which is a group fighting for their invaded land in Lebanon. I think that if someone wants to exercise this right, real terrorists should be targeted not religious figures.

Cartoons continue to evoke debate

Student group holds daylong events to raise awareness about Muslim perspective


Hate speech does not equal free speech.

That message painted on the rock on Farm Lane on Tuesday encompassed how the Muslim Students' Association, or MSA, says it feels about 12 Danish cartoons created last fall depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

As part of "The Day of Defense," members of the group passed out information and answered questions about the Muslim community in the wake of several newspapers reprinting the cartoons.

Their mission for the day was to educate others about the controversy in a peaceful manner, said MSA President Farhan Abdul Azeez.

The human biology senior said they chose to label the cartoons' message as hate speech because it negatively went against principles of both Islam and freedom of speech.

"It's the crutch of the matter," he said. "Freedom of speech is an important principle in America and in the Muslim world. This is an issue of respect.

"Anybody's right to say anything ends where another person's dignity begins."

But people are torn on the issue throughout the world.

Violent protests have erupted abroad due to the cartoons' publication and at least 48 deaths have occurred since January, when controversy over the cartoons began to ensue.

Although the majority of news organizations in the United States have refrained from running the images, a few — from collegiate to professional — decided to publish them, including an MSU-based Web site,

"It's not a publicity stunt, it just happened to be the biggest free speech issue of the day," said Alexander Scott, editor of the site. "I don't think political cartoons qualify as hate speech; it's satire, but it's just a political cartoon."

Azeez said the cartoons are just one piece of a puzzle involving a growing trend against Muslims but they presented an opportunity to educate others in a positive manner.

"The publication of these cartoons is the opposite of building bridges," he said. "Rather than continue the divide, we must learn more about each other and come to some common ground."

Psychology senior Farah Jaleel attended a panel discussion held as part of the day and said she was disappointed at the low turnout of 30 people.

"It seemed like the people who already know about the issues are the ones who came," she said. "This was to try to reach those who don't know. It's disappointing."

During the day, Azeez was one of several students stationed on different parts of Farm Lane handing out informational pamphlets which included a timeline of events, a short explanation of who the Prophet Muhammad was and what the Quran states about his depiction.

David Stowe, professor of Writing, Rhetoric & American Culture, invited Azeez to speak to one of his classes after seeing MSA members passing out information.

"It definitely touches on some really important core issues of freedom of expression versus religious sensitivity," he said. "Hopefully people are talking and trying to make sense of both sides of the issue."

Tough call

The decision to publish the cartoons has journalists divided as well.

In addition to, student publications from the University of Wisconsin, Harvard University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Illinois State University have chosen to run the cartoons.

An editorial released by the Harvard Salient defended their decision by stating "publishing materials that criticize the ways Islam has been usurped worldwide for purposes of violence and oppression is a risky, but honest and necessary, business."

The State News has chosen not to publish the cartoons and has received responses for and against the decision.

Two editors from the Daily Illini at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been suspended from the newspaper after they decided to run the cartoons.

"It doesn't make sense to see international condemnation if you can't, as a reader, see the very fundamentals of the controversy," said Acton Gorton, editor in chief and one of the students at the center of the controversy.

After Gorton, 25, decided he wanted six of the cartoons to accompany a column he was writing, he said he asked Opinions Editor Charles Prochaska for his input but there were no meetings with the seven-member editorial board because it wasn't a reflection of their views.

Prochaska could not be reached for comment.

An investigation into how the two made the decision to run the cartoons, which appeared on Feb. 9, is currently being performed by senior members of the newsroom and will determine whether or not they are allowed to return.

Jason Koch, a journalism senior who is serving as one co-interim editor in chief, said people in the newsroom were angry because nobody had input.

"They weren't suspended for running them, it was the manner in which they did it," he said. "The secretive way, not showing anyone and not letting the ones they did show give any opinions."

The task force, which consists of only non-editor senior staff members, is conducting interviews throughout the newsroom and will make a formal recommendation to the Daily Illini Board of Directors soon, Koch said.

Shaz Kaiseruddin, UIUC law student and MSA president, said the group drafted a letter in response to the Daily Illini and also held a peaceful demonstration after they printed the cartoons.

"We didn't try to get them suspended, our main energy was rather propagating greater awareness and coalition building," she said. "At the end of the day, there would be no greater victory than having open dialogue."

Ron Dzwonkowski, editor of the Detroit Free Press editorial page, said he met with the paper's cartoonist and editor in chief and decided not to run the cartoons because they didn't make a political point.

However, they did decide to publish links to Web sites where readers could view the images at their own discretion.

"We just think it would needlessly offend people," he said. "We run editorial cartoons that make a point and we don't run editorial cartoons that are mainly intended to provoke a reaction."

Rabiah Ahmed, spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the decision made by most American newspapers to abstain from reprinting the cartoons shows maturity "by not antagonizing the Muslim world and furthering the hostility that we have seen in the last few weeks."

Maggie Lillis can be reached at

Opinion Article March 2006

Free speech has limits; Muslims ask for respect, don't impose beliefs



Syed Mehdi Jafri



On Tuesday, the MSU Muslim Students' Association peacefully protested the publication of the caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist.

Students engaged in discussions over the issue and later that night the MSA hosted a question-and-answer session with a student panel to help answer questions that the MSU/East Lansing community had.

A common question brought up was why Muslim religious leaders or clerics don't condemn violence and terrorism.

The answer is simple: They do.

The leading Shia and Sunni (the two major sects of Islam) scholars have condemned such terrorism. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, strongly condemned the suicide terrorist attacks on Sept. 11: "Mass killings of human beings are catastrophic acts which are condemned, wherever they may happen and whoever the perpetrators and the victims may be."

The Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Sheikh Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, also condemned the killing of civilians in the attacks, considering it a gruesome act: "It's not courage in any way to kill an innocent person or to kill thousands of people, including men and women and children."

Now the question we should be asking ourselves is why isn't this information known? Why is it that these two reputable scholars of the Islamic faith have issued statements which are not readily available to us here in America? Has anyone ever heard either of these men quoted unless it was against Israel? How can we know if Muslim scholars condemn terrorism and violence if they aren't given the means to express their views on the issue?

These are all areas of serious concern that must be addressed.

Some see the cartoons as strictly a freedom of speech issue and say that any sort of restriction is a violation of our inalienable rights.

To that I point out that even in the West, there are restrictions to freedom of speech. One recent example was in Austria, where British historian David Irving was sentenced to three years in prison for denying the Holocaust.

I'm not saying that I agree with his views. My point is that even in the West, there are limits on freedom of speech.

Some people are confused about what all the fuss is about. It's just a cartoon right? The reality is that it's deeper than just a cartoon; it's associating the prophet of our religion as a terrorist.

Muslims believe that any depiction of any prophet, not just Muhammad but Jesus and Moses as well, is prohibited, even if it's a positive depiction. This issue has been portrayed in the media as a clash of cultures — Islam v. the West — and that Islam does not promote freedom or tolerance.

This couldn't be further from the truth. We believe in freedom, but not at the cost of breaching our religion.

Bonnie Bucqueroux, the MSU journalism instructor associated with a Web site that published the cartoons, claims it was done to broaden the community's discussion on the issue. Although I agree that we should have discussions on the issue, the publication of such images is unnecessary.

In the modern press, certain images of offensive nature aren't published, such as mutilated bodies from Iraq or images mocking the Holocaust because so many will be offended. There are times when good taste is necessary and when respect for your fellow human beings sometimes trumps freedom of speech.

Certain individuals might feel that they are not obligated to abide by Islamic ruling and they have the right to produce blasphemous images as they please. But the issue isn't about imposing Islamic laws on the West, it comes down to an issue of respect for one's religion and beliefs.

Ridiculing our prophet is the biggest insult that anyone can land on the Muslim world. It is seen to us as hate speech against our religion and our people.

One point that I would like to stress is that on any issue, we should be educated about both sides. The best way to solve these cultural clashes is to be informed about the cultures and religions involved.

In the case of Islam, one such source of education is the Muslim Students' Association. We promote the spread of knowledge and understanding of Islam on the MSU campus, and we invite non-Muslims and Muslims alike to come discuss issues regarding Islam. For more information, visit
Muslim Students' Association of Michigan State University

Syed Mehdi Jafri is a physiology junior and MSU Muslim Students' Association political chair. Reach him at

Excerpt from

Letter to the Editor: Cartoons example of religious bigotry, not free speech

Ali Agha

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

We must recognize that these cartoons are not a matter of free speech, they’re religious bigotry and intolerance.

If our society places limitations on speech which hurts and offends people who suffered from the Holocaust or is disrespectful to those mourning loved ones in a funeral, why does it allow and even support other forms of speech which is purposefully designed to hurt, offend, and further isolate nearly 1.5 billion Muslims world wide? This tells me, as a Muslim and as an American, that my religious beliefs are not worth considering much less worth respecting.

— Ali Agha for the Muslim Student Association

Letters to the Editor

Stand up for freedom

How is it that the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and apparently now the UNC Muslim Students Association (MSA) are able to force “sharia” law on us Americans? Since when has the media been sensitive to people of faith by not publishing the so-called offensive cartoons depicting Muhammad?

Yet our federally funded National Endowment for the Arts contributed to the desecration of a crucifix upside down in a jar of urine, supported the display of a portrait of the Virgin Mary with animal feces smeared on it and financed a play depicting Jesus and his disciples as “gay.”

All of these vile depiction's of Christianity received critical acclaim and publicly acknowledge by our media for all to see! How compassionate of our media to display such images hurtful and offensive to members of the Christian community and yet the American media is so willing to cave to the modern fascists demand of “censorship” by not printing the so-called caricatures of Muhammad.

How is it that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a Muslim Student Association? Didn't the UNC elite's openly oppose a Christian student organization because it is not “inclusive” of non-Christians, gays and other sexually confused people?

Does the UNC MSA embrace students of other faiths, Christians, Hindus and Jews? Does the MSA embrace the gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-gendered or sexually confused students of UNC? How does the MSA reconcile the sharia law as it pertains to the treatment of infidels and homosexuals? Does the MSA prefer beheading, stoning or hanging of those convicted, under sharia law, of homosexuality? How does the UNC vice-chancellor for student affairs address these obvious conflicts in the UNC policy of embracing of all of “diversity's perversities?” Yet we read that the MSA is threatening to cause a riot over this nonsense. What ever happened to the “religion of peace?” I certainly hope someone is listening to their phone calls and reading their emails. Our support and thanks should go to The Daily Tar Heel editor and staff for standing up for freedom! The rest of the media are just gutless hypocrites!